I love retro collections. The thought of an entire disc filled with old school goodness brings a big smile to my face, especially when the games included get the love and attention they deserve. Unfortunately, the whole genre seems to be quite spotty when it comes to getting things right. A few, like Midway's Arcade Treasures series, are solid in their offerings. They provide a wide selection of titles that span the different eras of their history and can be considered true classics. Others, like Tecmo Classic Arcade fall short of greatness for reasons that shouldn't even be an issue in this day and age.
The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Unplayable
Released on the heels of several competing collections, Tecmo's offering boasts a line up of eleven games from yesteryear. The only problem is that most of what's included wasn't all that good in the first place, and to see them here makes one wonder exactly who was in charge of selecting the content. We can basically lump everything into three categories: worth playing, worth a look, and not worth your time.
The first area is perhaps the weakest, in that Tecmo Bowl, Rygar, and Solomon's Key are the only stand-out names to be had. All three are quite popular, and Tecmo Super Bowl is tons of fun, even without its trackball controller. I would have preferred the unforgettable NES release, but this is an arcade collection, so that's the version we get. Moreover, recent events in sports gaming would have made the inclusion of real teams and players impossible. You won't them much anyway, as four-player madness more than makes up for it anyway. Dropping back to make those long passes has never been so much fun. Bombs away!
Both Rygar and Solomon's Key were also made available on home consoles, but the arcade version of Solomon's Key remains my favorite to this day. I love puzzle games, and the simplistic genius of its single-screen stages still marvels me to this day. This is prime example of how gameplay and level design are what makes or breaks a game, not the eye candy. Don't let the visuals fool you though. This baby ramps up the difficulty pretty quickly, and you can easily find yourself trapped within the span of only a few moves.
Even without its NES RPG elements, Rygar is still a classic. I'm sure many out there have fond memories of playing it at home, and while it was a great game, the arcade original compares favorably. I had forgotten just how long it was, and Tecmo was cruel/thoughtful enough to limit the amount of continues available, which means that you won't blow right through it in a single sitting. The only other console to receive a port was the Atari Lynx, and I'm happy that it's getting a second chance here.